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I’ve been sheepish about going public with this but here goes … I think I don’t have Bronchiectasis, anymore.
Feels strange saying that. Especially when autumn and autumn-turning-into-winter and the junk food of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas usually kick-start the coughing and wheezing and then I usually battle it until springtime when I can get back outside, exercise, and I typically make a promise to start exercising and eating right.
Something’s different this time. Earlier this year, my pulmonologist (that’s a lung doctor if you don’t know) retired and I got a new pulmonologist. My old doctor told me a life where I can’t run fast, can’t laugh, and where I’ll occasionally cough-up blood is just life-with-Bronchiectasis and, “it could be worse.” I was willing to accept that and I felt like, when I did cough uncontrollably, well, it was my fault (because of diet, too much activity, or failing to do my breathing exercises or wear a vibrating vest).
Enter my retired doctor’s replacement … a young guy. A hot shot pulmonologist who takes chances and wears Aviator sunglasses and has thousands of followers online. A doctor with an attitude. A doctor all the other doctors think is crazy and they tell him things like, “one of these days your diagnosis is gonna kill someone,” and, “I just hope I’m not alive to see it.” But, my new pulmonologist is a doctor who doesn’t play by the rules and will do anything to help people with their lung problems.
This Christmas, see Tom Cruise like you’ve never seen him …as a doctor …in … “Every Breath You Take.”
Someone write that script.
OK. Actually he’s just a younger doctor and he met with me a few times and asked, “are you really resigned to living your life like this? Do you mind if we try some things?”
I said, “heck yes. I’m young and, no, I’m not ready to keep living like this.”
One of my favorite things to do is laugh …to laugh loud and hard and obnoxiously, and for about a decade I’ve forced myself not to laugh or I would just laugh and suffer the consequences, which amounted to coughing fits, shortness of breath, and usually the need to lay down and shallow my breathing and think about sad and boring things to stop laughing and calm my lungs.
This new, “maverick” doctor sent me to the lab. He made me get inside a lung machine and hyperventilate and breathe deep and breathe all the way in and then all the way out. It kicked my ass (if my lungs had an ass). He put me on a treadmill with a breathing tube and made me run, and run more, and run fast, and deprived me of oxygen while running.
Then he put me on two inhalers and said, “you’re going to hate me for a little while,” and I did what he said and I did hate him. Once I hated the inhalers so much I stopped using them. I swore I was wheezing more and the steroids in the inhalers impacted my sleep (meaning, I couldn’t get to sleep or stay asleep). Dr. Breathenstein convinced me to start again. I did. And then I quit again because I swore I was getting worse and then …
One day, I don’t even remember when, I found myself talking on the phone and laughing with a friend and I didn’t cough or anything. I remember hanging up the phone and thinking, hey, I can’t remember the last time I coughed and wheezed uncontrollably. That was about April/May (coincidentally when I got my 2 Pfizer vaccines and so this is also entirely possible a side effect of the COVID vaccine is that it cures Bronchiectasis).
Ever since? Nothing. Like nothing at all. It’s been 13 years I’ve been suffering with this Bronchiectasis crap and now …nothing.
I’ve done everything to prove it’s a fluke. I’ve gone out running. I’ve eaten super crappy food (causing phlegm). I’ve watched funny things and laughed really hard.
I’m almost embarrassed to say it because, believe it or not, the many, many Blog entries I’ve written on Bronchiectasis are my most read and most Commented on Blog posts. Those of us with Bronchiectasis find each other, and their ain’t many of us, and we bond over our labored breathing, coughing, and how we live with it.
Am I out of the club? I might be. And I think most people in the club will be happy to see me leave and I wish they could leave the Bronchiectasis Club, too.
You know me. I Blog it (a) to have a written record of what happened and when, (b) because my Bronchiectasis fans might want to know, and (c) the majority of my dozen readers are family members and they care.
Here’s to many months of good breathing.